Luther Vandross is dead, Luther Vandross dies, Luther Vandross passed away.
Luther Vandross died at the age of 54 on July 1, 2005 at 1:47pm EDT (1747 UTC), at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, from complications due to a stroke he had suffered in his Manhattan home on April 16, 2003. Luther Vandross was surrounded by his family and friends at the time of his death, and they said his passing was a peaceful one.
Luther Vandross (born Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr.) (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an African American R&B singer. Born in New York City, Luther Vandross started his singing career in the 1970s as a back-up vocalist for artists such as David Bowie (who discovered him and put him on his Young Americans album), Roberta Flack, Carly Simon, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic, and Barbra Streisand. During the beginning of his career, Luther Vandross was content to remain mostly in the background, as a producer and backup singer for other artists. Eventually, Roberta Flack decided to push Luther Vandross into starting his own career because she believed that he was an incredible talent who deserved to be heard for his singing in addition to his songwriting and production.
Luther Vandross eventually made his breakthrough as a guest singer with the group Change. Their 1980 hit, "The Glow of Love" and "Searching" led to a recording contract with Epic Records, and in 1981, he made his solo recording debut with the disc "Never Too Much." The album, which contained his aching rendition of "A House is Not a Home," became an instant classic.
It was only in the 1980s that Luther Vandross' career skyrocketed, with albums such as "Forever, for Always, for Love" and "Give Me The Reason," and a string of successful R&B hits such as "Never Too Much". When Luther Vandross produced his 1989 greatest hits album, "The Best Of Luther Vandross...The Best Of Love," he ended up hitting the top ten for the first time with the ballad "Here And Now".
More albums followed in the 1990s, beginning with 1991's "Power Of Love". Luther Vandross hit the top ten again in 1994 with "Endless Love", a duet with Mariah Carey and a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's hit song from the film "Endless Love". A second greatest hits album, released in 1997, compiled most of his '90s hits.
Diabetes runs in his family, according to his mother Mary Vandross. His father, Luther Sr., died of complications from diabetes when Luther Jr. was five years old. Luther Jr.'s two sisters and a brother died before him also. In 2003, Luther Vandross released the album "Dance With My Father" in memory of his father. The title track, which was dedicated to the memory of the younger Vandross' childhood dances with his father, won Luther and his co-writer, singer Richard Marx, the 2004 Grammy Award for Song Of The Year. The song also won Luther Vandross his fourth and final award in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category, which he had also won in 1997 for "Your Secret Love", 1991 for "Here And Now", and 1992 for "The Power Of Love/Love Power". To date, "Here And Now" and "The Power Of Love/Love Power" remain arguably Vandross' best known solo hits.
Luther Vandross was inspired by Aretha Franklin, for whom he eventually produced many albums. Vandross did many remakes of old songs, such as "Since I Lost My Baby" (originally recorded by The Temptations), "Superstar (Until You Come Back To Me)" (originally recorded by The Carpenters and most recently covered by Ruben Studdard), "Love Won't Let Me Wait" (originally recorded by Major Harris), "Always and Forever" (originally recorded by Heatwave), "Knocks Me Off My Feet" (originally recorded by Stevie Wonder), and "Lovely Day" (originally recorded by Bill Withers). Vandross also inspired his J Records labelmate, Ruben Studdard, the American Idol of 2003, who later updated Vandross' song "Superstar".
Besides Studdard, Luther Vandross also inspired countless other artists (both male and female), such as Boyz II Men, Usher, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Brandy. It was with Beyoncé that he recorded yet another cover of a well-known song, "The Closer I Get To You" (originally recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway). Another American Idol contestant, Scott Savol of the 2005 season, had an affinity for Vandross' music, and he sang three of Vandross' famous songs during that season of the show (including "Superstar" in the show's Cleveland auditions).
There have been many questions regarding Vandross' sexuality, mainly due to his working relationship with producer Marcus Miller. Rumors have flown since the 1980s that Luther Vandross was gay. The rumors never proved to be true during Vandross' lifetime. The lifelong bachelor never had any children, but doted on his nieces and nephews. The entertainer said his busy lifestyle made marriage difficult; besides, it wasn't what he wanted. Another musician with a strong connection to Luther Vandross, saxophonist Dave Koz, did come out of the closet in 2004. Vandross was a featured vocalist on Koz's 1999 album, "The Dance". Luther Vandross is also credited with inventing the Luther Burger.
Luther Vandross "Live at Wembley (1989)" DVD: ORDER IT NOW.
Luther Vandross: Greatest Hits (Original Recording Remastered) CD (14 tracks): ORDER IT NOW.